Happy first full day of autumn. It is feeling very fall-like in Minnesota and thanks to a second half of summer drought our leaves are already turning. They change color not because of autumn but because they are struggling to survive. We started out the summer wet and cool but the second half left our landscape parched and thirsty. It is so sad to see about 20 trees dead or dying around our rural acreage but Mother Nature can be a bitch sometimes.
Vacations and your health
I have just returned from two weeks abroad and while I am feeling good and not too tired, I have some acrimonious aches and pains that are immobilizing me at the moment. While hiking in the Borders of Scotland I tripped on a gnarly tree root that was slippery from morning rain and went right down on my chest as my hands were elsewhere, I guess. That fall knocked the wind right out of me and jarred an old injury to my ribs (caused by two poodles who whisked me off a porch in pursuit of a squirrel).
My right side is so sore sleep is, at best, restless and broken. Once home I spent as much time as possible with my fabulous grandsons and having picked up and cuddled two boys for two days I know that is “verboten” as well. I am unbelievably sad about not being able to pick up those boys and cuddle them but I can’t aggravate this injury anymore.
Barefoot running and Morton’s neuroma
Before my holiday, I was running barefoot on my paved driveway and had gotten up to a mile of barefoot running. Around the time we left my right foot was hurting and now I know I have a Morton’s neuroma that is alive and well. I have had a neuroma in my left foot for ages that came on after walking barefoot or with my Vibram- 5- Fingers on the beach in Florida for a few days. That neuroma seems to have faded away with time but now has been replaced by this one which is causing me considerable pain and discomfort. I guess barefoot running is also a forbidden sport, at least for now.
Aches and pains be damned
So, aches and pains aside my holiday was lovely. The weather was very summer-like and the cottage we rented for the second year in a row was perfect for us again this year. This wee croft cottage is extremely private (if you don’t count the sheep, deer, otter, dolphins and passing boats as a crowd) and we can walk unimpeded by other humans for hours.
One day we lunched on the shoreline of a nearby private cove looking out to sea. As we watched shipping traffic in the faraway sea channel we saw a few black “things” jump from the water. Then we saw a few more and in the end probably 2 dozen dolphins in a pod. They were obviously following a school of fish but they entertained us for nearly an hour eventually coming up our inlet (Loch Feochan) and frolicking right in front of us.
I love our weeks in Great Britain. After living there in the 80′s we fully intended to live there again one day but Osama’s grand plan (otherwise known as 9/11) got in the way, so instead we rent a cottage here and there and live the good life for a week on our own. Our second week is very dear to both of us as we spend it visiting our long time friends (former neighbors and lifetime friends) who just plain make my heart happy.
On being gluten-free and on holiday
This year staying with friends was more difficult since I have gone gluten-free. I knew the one friend would be fine with it as she has a sister who is gluten-free. She kindly dedicated a corner counter to me in the kitchen. She scrubbed her toaster and made some gluten-free treats basically having us all eat gluten-free as much as possible. I didn’t ask her to do that but she did and I enjoyed and appreciated her efforts. Probably more than anything she didn’t make me feel bad about it; she just accepted it and made me feel okay about my change of diet.
My other friend really didn’t understand being gluten-free, so she struggled a bit. At one point she even said to me, in a very gentle voice, “A little gluten won’t hurt you!”. The odd thing is this friend is a pescatarian (they say vegetarian but they do eat fish) and if meat even touches their food they won’t eat it, so I thought she might be more understanding but alas I don’t blame her for being irritated. Being gluten-free is not an easy thing for me either.
Some helpful gluten-free travel tips
Before we left I carefully updated my profile on Delta to say I needed gluten-free food. This, it turns out, was a useless endeavor. It simply was never recorded I guess, so I had to pick food that seemed the least touched by flours and grains. Meanwhile, because there was someone on both flights that had nut allergies the entire plane was warned and nuts were not available (but pretzels were). I don’t blame the people with nut allergies but I wish Delta Airlines would take gluten intolerance as seriously.
On the way home, by now somewhat chagrined by my experience with Delta, I asked the flight attendant why they didn’t know I needed gluten-free food and drink. To her credit she relayed my question to someone who could answer it. What I was told was I needed to request gluten-free food for every flight I take. Apparently updating my profile did absolutely no good which is, needless to say, disappointing. My advice: Make sure to inform the airline on every flight you take where food is served, that you need gluten-free food.
Delta Airlines aside, I was amazed at all the gluten-free items available in England and Scotland, especially Tesco, Booth’s and Sainsbury’s. Restaurants are very careful to keep you safe if you tell them you are gluten-free. Also, if you are travelling in Britain, if it doesn’t say “Gluten Free” it probably isn’t. Sometimes even if it does say “Gluten Free” you might check the ingredients carefully. One bottle of Worcester Sauce (a gluten-free Worcestershire sauce) said it was gluten-free but in looking at the ingredients (I started having some heart irregularity) it contained malt vinegar which is not technically gluten-free. I know, picky, picky but this trip was so much better than any I have had in years I am convinced being gluten-free is right for me and sometimes you have to be “picky”.
One treat that perhaps I shouldn’t have indulged in, but did, is bread. If you like toast or sandwiches while on vacation in Britain most grocery stores sell the best gluten-free bread. It is the Genius brand. It is the same size as normal bread and has the same texture as other bagged breads. I came home thinking surely I could find a similar bread here, which I did. At least it was called Genius but it isn’t the same and I can tell you not to bother buying it. The Genius bread here isn’t even as good as Udi’s Gluten free bread and it is more expensive.
The proof is in the pudding, gluten free pudding that is
In past years, I have “treated” myself to one or two weeks of gluten while on holiday. In fact, whenever I have gone on vacation I was eating gluten be it abroad or here in the States. At home I was gluten-free but I would throw caution to the wind when away from home thinking this was mentally good for me, basically a total break from the norm.
What was happening though was not good for me. Almost every night I was away from home I would wake up about an hour or two after going to bed with a pounding head and heart. My heart beat would be in excess of 100 bpm and the only thing that calmed it was “tincture of time” and a big glass of salt water. I would read for a couple of hours and then crawl back in bed and sleep until morning. Inevitably, I would lower my dose of T3 which did help but did not eliminate the problem. For some reason, it never occurred to me that gluten might be implicated until last winter.
Light bulb moments
It wasn’t a momentous occasion but I did have a regular wheat crust on a pizza right after Christmas 2012 and immediately had issues with the racing heart and a sleepless night. I hadn’t had any gluten at that time since September’s vacation, so the light suddenly and finally went on. I had a gluten problem. It wasn’t just that I shouldn’t eat gluten because Dr. Mercola condemns wheat and grains I actually have gluten intolerance and possibly Celiac’s Disease. Now even coffee seems to be off the “treat” list as my joints scream at me “No more coffee!” as soon as I indulge. Just so you know, if you have trouble with gluten you may have trouble with coffee.
Another light bulb moment for me was last autumn when I got shingles shortly after my autumn indulgence, aka vacation. What I finally remembered was that almost every autumn within weeks of returning from my gluten filled weeks I would get, not necessarily shingles, but a rash on my lower back that, according to my doctor, was most likely Dermatitis Herpetiformis. It was initially a burning pain on my back and within a day or two would break out in this ugly dark blistered rash. When I got shingles I assumed that rash had been shingles but in talking to Dr. Lane she said it was most likely Dermatitis Herpetiformis because of its location and the fact that it did cross a center-line of my body.
I really didn’t intend this to be all about my gluten-free lifestyle but every thing seems important to mention just in case you have suffered similar effects after eating gluten or if you happen to have a holiday to Britain in the works and you are gluten-free. I hope you found the gluten-free information helpful but I really wanted to talk about my latest Vitamin D test.
This was my fourth year of testing because I started in August 2009 as part of a test group for the Vitamin D Council. At that time my D level was 64 ng/ml. That winter (March 2010) my D levels were 92 ng/ml. The next August they were 58 ng/ml. The following March they were 70 ng/ml. August 2011-56 ng/ml. February 2012-70 ng/ml. August 2012-91 ng/ml. March 2013-84 ng/ml.
This August my levels were 64 ng/ml. That is down from February’s 84 ng/ml but mostly typical of what my summertime results have been with the exception of August 2012. I really can’t say why my winter results are almost consistently higher than my summer results. I use my Sunsplash Renew more in the winter than the summer but I am outside in the summer and I do expose my body to sunlight at midday at least three times a week in the summer. I seldom take D supplementation relying solely on my Sunsplash Renew and the summer sun. I never wash after sunbathing (or using my D lights) always letting 24 hours pass before a shower and even then I only soap vitals areas (as per Dr. Mercola).
Suffice it to say, my levels are always within normal limits but I would prefer they stay closer to 90 ng/ml, so long as my sole source of Vitamin D is natural and not supplementation. I have one more year to be part of the study, so come February I will test my levels again. I am trying to spend 20 minutes three times a week in front of my Sunsplash Renew to see if that brings my levels up in February but now I wonder if what I need to do in the summer is take Vitamin D supplements to maintain a level that helps my compromised immune system since I do have Hashimoto’s.
Ah, in the end life it just one big experiment isn’t it?